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News Briefs II

Researchers Link Bacterial Infection to Heart Disease

Los Angeles Times
ONTARIO

Researchers say they have for the first time demonstrated a direct link between bacterial infection and heart disease, confirming a suspicion that has been floating through the cardiology community for the better part of a decade.

The proof of a link suggests that at least some of the 961,000 deaths from heart disease in the United States every year could be prevented by treatment with antibiotics or, even better, by immunization against the responsible organisms.

In the new study, to be reported Friday in the journal Science, researchers, including Dr. Josef M. Penninger, from the Ontario Cancer Institute in Toronto found that injecting mice with proteins from chlamydia bacteria can produce heart disease. As many as 95 percent of people are exposed to chlamydia during their lives.

The chlamydia protein, which sits on the bacterium's surface, is virtually identical to one found in healthy heart tissue. When the mouse's immune system gears up to attack the protein, it also damages the heart and coronary arteries.

The results do not mean that high cholesterol, smoking, obesity and hypertension are not important factors in heart disease, said Dr. Paul Ridker of the Harvard Medical School. Rather, the findings add one more risk factor to the constellation of health problems that lead to heart attacks.

Rudder Movement Suspected in Emergency Landing Incident

The Washington Post
WASHINGTON

Investigators believe the MetroJet Boeing 737 jet that made an emergency landing Wednesday at Baltimore-Washington International Airport experienced a rudder movement, but they don't know why and have expressed frustration that they will get limited help from the plane's older flight data recorder.

A preliminary reading of the jet's recorder indicates that the rudder movement may have occurred slowly in the seconds before the crew noticed the problem and took action. Both crew members had recently been trained in recovery techniques for just such situations. Sources said the plane made no abrupt movements that would have shaken passengers.

The National Transportation Safety Board is particularly interested in what happened to MetroJet Orlando-Hartford Flight 2710 because a rudder malfunction is suspected in the Sept. 8, 1994, crash of USAir Flight 427 at Pittsburgh, which killed 132 people.

Analysis of the recorder began Wednesday night, and investigators also began an examination of the rudder power control unit that was removed from the plane after it landed late Wednesday morning.